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Dr. Craig Nelson, a forensic pathologist, testified today that 22-year-old Brittany Killgore was killed by ligature strangulation. The doctor first observed the body where it was found, in the dirt alongside a road near Lake Skinner, in a remote area of Southern California, on April 17, 2012.

Brittany Killgore was declared missing after she reportedly went on a date with a 46-year-old sergeant in the Marines named Louis Ray Perez; the young woman was married to a Marine deployed in Afghanistan at the time.

Dr. Nelson said evidence at the scene indicated “the body was not found in the place where she died.”

Investigators have said they believe Brittany Killgore was killed in a “torture dungeon” in a home in Fallbrook, in northern San Diego County.

Dr. Nelson said subcutaneous bleeding on the right wrist of the deceased was “consistent with handcuff use.”

The doctor described marks on the outside of the deceased’s neck and fractured cartilage inside, “it does indicate the airway was crushed,” he said.

“Post-mortem” or after-death injuries to the body included cuts down into the bone. The doctor described “tool marks” and wounds “consistent with saw marks.” The doctor placed an item of evidence given to him by deputies, a saw, into one of the wounds on the body and photographed it; the photo of the power tool alongside the marks on the body was presented in court today as evidence.

Three unusual persons who frequented the Fallbrook home where it is suspected that the woman was killed, have pleaded not-guilty to charges of kidnap and torture and murder. Louis Perez, 46, and Jessica Lopez, 25, and Dorothy Maraglino, 37 are in court hearing evidence all this week in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.

Three days after Brittany Killgore went missing, investigators found what was termed a “suicide note” in the same room with suspect Jessica Lopez. The hand-written pages included these statements: “I hid the body of that (slur) in almost plain sight she didn’t deserve a burial. I dropped that useless waste of space off some little hill off the road by lake skinner. I don’t know where exactly. I tossed bleach all over the (slur) & just rolled her down the hill. But since I know how incompetent you are here’s what you’ll find. You’ll probably find ligature marks from the handcuffs…you’ll also find a taser mark and several ligature marks around her scrawny little neck as the (slur) just wouldn’t die. You’ll find plenty of mutilation marks & bruises of where I knocked her down & held her still.”

The note reportedly helped investigators find the body.

The fifth day of testimony is expected to begin tomorrow morning, Friday March 15, 2013, before the Honorable K. Michael Kirkman.

(The photo above the headline is of defendant Jessica Lynn Lopez in court, mid-March 2013)

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Eva Knott March 14, 2013 @ 2:01 p.m.

The defense attorney for Louis Ray Perez seemed to suggest with his cross-examination that the victim may have been accidentally killed during a kind of sex play in which breathing is suppressed by one participant.


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